Cape Town - It was summer in the Mother City and I was recovering from my first true heartbreak.
To escape the heat and find solace away from my thoughts I would visit the crummy internet café hidden just off Kloof Nek Road. It would later close its doors and become a trendy hangout.
I didn’t have internet at my small apartment just up the street, so this was my daily routine to check in online. I would mostly scratch around on YouTube looking for some new music and quickly get lost down the rabbit hole that is the “play next” button.
This is how I discovered the music of Australian folk and indie band, Angus & Julia Stone. Something about their music instantly connected with me. It must have been the effortless combination of Julia’s honey-sweet voice and Angus’ slow and smooth tone that made me feel like I had truly found a hidden gem.
Big Jet Plane will forever be the anthem to my youth and a reminder of the first time I truly knew what being in love felt like. Now, many years later I’m sitting in the office on the 15th floor overlooking the Cape Town Harbour waiting to talk to Julia Stone – one half of the brother-and-sister duo.
Angus and Julia will be visiting South Africa this week, kicking off their tour in Cape Town at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on Thursday, 25 January.
Thereafter they’ll be heading to the 7th annual Parklife Festival at Marks Park in Emmarentia on Saturday, 27 January. They’ll end off their tour at the 2nd annual Parklife Festival at the Durban Botanic Gardens on Sunday, 28 January.
Julia is friendly and kind and although I’ve never met her, her voice is comfortably familiar over the phone. I have, after all, been listening to their music for years.
ON DECIDING TO TOUR SOUTH AFRICA
“It’s our first show in South Africa. We were offered a show about two years ago and we really wanted to come and play it but we were both starting to work on stuff for the new record and it just wasn’t at the right time to be able to do it,” Julia explains on how their tour to SA came about.
“We had also just finished touring our previous record. We thought about it and it didn’t work out. But that definitely planted a seed in our head to maybe have the opportunity to play in South Africa. Then with this tour and album we got the offer to play the festival and it was during the time we would have a break from touring so it worked out perfectly,” She added.
The Cape Town leg of the tour is already sold out and according to Julia they were not expecting such a big response at all: “It really did come as surprise. We’re actually playing our biggest show in South Africa and not in Australia. It’s very surprising and unusual for us. We’re kind of in a bit of shock. When they told us how big the venue was we didn’t think that it was going to happen. But it’s really amazing. I think we both feel pretty overwhelmed.”
Their trip to the country will however just be a quick one as both Angus and Julia have to head straight back into other projects back home: “We’ve got a couple of days off but we’ll probably only have enough time to go out and eat some local food and roam around the city. We won’t really have time to explore further than that. Sadly, we both have separate things to do straight after, so it’s a bit unfortunate actually.”
ON LOVING ROOIBOS TEA
Angus and Julia formed their band in 2006 and released their first studio album, A Book Like This in 2007. Ever since then they’ve done numerous tours all over the world including their most recent tour for the newly released album, Snow. Such a busy schedule can be demanding but luckily the siblings have their little tricks for making their journey as comfortable as possible: “I absolutely love drinking tea. I always take my favourite teabags with me. That’s definitely very soothing and calming for me to be anywhere in the world and have my favourite cup of tea,” Julia says.
“Angus always takes this really cute little statue with him everywhere. Which is really lovely, and he puts it on his guitar. It’s sort of his lucky totem that he has with him. Of course, there’s also practical things like noise cancelling earphones that makes life a bit more comfortable with all the travel. But the tea is a big one for me. I can be anywhere in the world and have that similar taste and feel like I’m home. I love rooibos tea especially.”
ON WRITING CHATEAU
Snow is their fourth studio album and was released in September 2017. One of the standout tracks is undoubtedly Chateau. The music video stars Stranger Things actor Dacre Montgomery and the song is also one of Julia’s favourites from the new album.
“I love Chateau. It’s really fun to play live and it was a really fun song to write for both Angus and me. It was one of those songs that sort of just came out of nowhere, late night in the studio. We got really lost in it. It was fun…just this beautiful process of writing. It started off with a whole bunch of bass lines…having different bass parts interwoven, interlocked and then just sitting and singing ideas back and forth between each other until the early hours of the morning.
“That was a really nice time for us. So, Chateau just has that feeling of that time and I think you can really hear that in the sound of it. It’s very kind of joyful for both Angus and me. Our songs tend to have a sort of darkness to them, but Chateau is very light and uplifting.”
ON WHAT INSPIRES THEM
Angus and Julia come from a very musical family. In fact, their parents, Kim Jones and John Stone, were also a folk duo before the birth of their older sister, Catherine. During family gatherings they would always make music together. They grew up in Newport on Sydney's Northern Beaches and had a very outdoorsy lifestyle, something Julia says influences their music to this day.
“I think a big part of the inspiration for the records we make comes from being in nature. We grew up in such a beautiful area of Sydney. Our whole lives have been on boats and at our grandparents’ farm. We have that close connection with nature. All our recording sessions have been in all these beautiful places. Our first record was made at home at dad’s cottage which was kind of in the valley near the forest.
“We’ve recorded everywhere from Cornwall in the south of England to Malibu overlooking the beach. For this record, our process and what inspired us, was influenced by our surroundings. We were up at Angus’ farm. It was so beautiful. There’s nothing around except for kangaroos, and cows, and koalas. We stayed in this little cottage that we lived out of. We spent our days cooking food and making music surrounded by nature. I think that also explains why we’re so relaxed when we get to studio. There’s no pressure to make things work. We both subscribe to that philosophy in life.”
And that’s exactly what fans can expect from their South African shows. “It will be a bit of a mix. We will definitely play a few songs from Snow because we enjoy playing the new music. But we’ll also play a bunch of songs from down the way. Especially when it’s our own show we get to be a bit more expressive. We’ll probably play Santa Monica Dream…something a little bit more intimate like that.”
I can hardly wait.